Michael Hentges Blog

Why I Play Chess

Jun 03, 2022

Chess is a game that is centuries old, originating in western Europe in the 1400s. But despite it’s age, it is currently played every day by thousands of people across the world. Current fad, or local customs often influence which games kids learn - but chess is present in almost every global culture. Chess is usually introduced to kids as another game to play - kids play lots of games! But chess’s widespread and seemingly never-ending popularity demonstrate that it ends up being so much more than that.

Chess isn’t like most games. I’ve played lots of games - they were a staple of my childhood. But only Chess has captured my attention for decades and still is something I play/compete daily. And I’m not alone! There are many reasons why chess is one of the most popular games after over 800 years since its creation:

  1. Chess is a contest with complete information. The pieces are visible on the board - nothing hidden or left to chance. You don’t outplay your opponent for the entire game only to have them get lucky and roll double-sixes and escape with a win at the last minute (darn you backgammon!). This makes Chess the ultimate “fair game” - your opponent doesn’t get better cards, or better rolls.

  2. Whoever plays the game better, wins. Luck is not part of the game. There is no reason, other than your lack of ability, for not winning a game.

  3. There are swindles, surprises, things that happen that you don’t expect. At least for us mere mortals, with an incomplete ability to foresee all that is to come, there is a feeling of suspense for most of the game for “what will happen?” Chess is so complicated, that no human can figure it out completely. There is always an unknown future that requires you to find a path to reach success.

  4. Chess as an artistic beauty to it. The way pieces interact and combine thier individual powers into a seemless whole fascinates players. Surprising combinations where pieces are sacrificed to achieve a greater goal - especially when the all-powerful queen is given up to acheive check-mate - add to the beauty of chess..

  5. Knowledge is power. You can study chess, and learn ways to play that give you a distinct advantage over others. A notation system devised for chess makes it possible to record and review past games. Recorded games between the great champions of the past are available for anyone to review. Thousands of books on chess have been published, and cover all aspects of the game.

I’m always competing - either against someone else, or against myself (trying to get better). Chess has been a great outlet for this for me, and thousands of others.

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